Lessons from the Other Side: Becoming a Member After a Frustrating Journey

I recently encountered a frustrating experience while applying for membership in a professional society. The application instructions on their website were arranged numerically but needed reordering. Adding to the confusion, the entire website needed more specific information.

Seeking clarification, I called the office, only to discover that the society had recently overhauled one of the steps in the membership process. Despite their attempts to explain the change in the membership application, it remained confusing and written out of order. After politely expressing my concerns and suggesting that the application steps be re-ordered to reflect their proper sequence, the staffer appeared annoyed by my feedback and clarification request.

As a result of this encounter, I felt more repelled than enticed to join their association.

The experience made me question whether I truly wanted to join their organization. As an outsider, I cannot fully comprehend this association’s inner workings. However, my advice to them, and anyone implementing new processes that impact members or potential members, is to test these processes before they launch.

While it is impossible to catch every problem, the primary goal should be to minimize problems and provide the best possible experience. One practical approach is to involve outsiders in the testing – those who are not staff or volunteers involved in the change. In addition to providing fresh perspectives, these individuals can also identify details that may have been overlooked or confusing. Their feedback can be invaluable, as they may spot flaws the internal team missed. Furthermore, the website of the association must provide ample information.

In today’s busy world, people don’t want to spend their time sending emails or making phone calls seeking clarification. Only the most dedicated individuals will walk the extra mile. Information must be accessible and user-friendly, and people seeking assistance must have a positive and helpful experience.

Because I am in the role of association administration, this experience served as a reminder to look through the lens of a member. By doing so, it made clear the importance of considering the perspective of those who are navigating the membership process.

As for me, I am persevering with completing my membership application. First impressions, however, last a lifetime. Unfortunately, I do not have a positive impression of this association. There is something particularly bothersome about the indifferent attitude of the staff and the feeling of being taken for granted.

Due to its professional benefits, I am obligated to join, however I would prefer if they did not make it so apparent that they have the upper hand. It does not feel comfortable to be in this position. Nevertheless, I will continue my membership as a key element of my professional development. Onwards I go!

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